Mother says beheading victim is Port Kaituma miner

A young man seen in a recent viral video being brutally murdered in neighbouring Venezuela has been identified as a Port Kaituma miner.

While local authorities have not yet pronounced on the killing, Mary Romascindo, of Port Kaituma, in Region One, confirmed yesterday that the individual in the video is her son, Otneil Romascindo, 22, called ‘Billy.’

Mary said she positively identified her son from a scar on his chest and a mole on his forehead.

In the little over two-minute long video, which was posted on Facebook last week, the now dead man, who was only clad in jeans, was seen on the ground with his hands restrained behind his back and his mouth gagged.

An unknown individual is heard speaking in a foreign language, believed to be Spanish, before taking a small, sharp object and cutting off Romascindo’s ears. Both men are then heard having a brief conversation in the foreign language, although Romascindo is also almost inaudible due to the gag. He is then heard moaning continuously as his killer/s took a larger object and began to behead him.

While the conversation in the video was not clear, Stabroek News was told that the perpetrator/s told Otneil, “You can’t want take credit from the shop and don’t pay.” Otneil did not respond directly and instead was asking for his money.

Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Mary said she last saw Otneil in October, 2016, when he left home for the border to work. “…Since then, he send money for me one time and that was it. I never hear back from he or see he,” Mary said, while adding that she learnt that he had returned for a visit during the holidays but she wasn’t home. Otneil, she said, left and went back to the border and never returned.

“He did call me one time and tell me he got one more pit to cut and when they finish he will come and bring money for me but I never see he back,” she said.

The woman said she believes that her son might have been killed after demanding his payments for the labour he provided. “It did happen already. He always getting a hard time to get his money ’til one time he did stop working with a man who didn’t want pay he and he start working with another and eventually he end up Venezuela,” Mary related.

‘Mystery caller’

Meanwhile, Mary also said that on Saturday, she received a call from someone who claimed to be her son but the person ended the call abruptly after she enquired when he would return home. “A man call me and ask if I is Billy mother and I said yes and then I hear the person say ‘Come boy, come talk to your mother,’” she recounted.

After the call ended, the phone rang again and a person who did not even sound like her son began to talk to her. “I know my son and how he does operate when he call. He always ask for his favourite sister, Tessa, first, but this person just sound different,” she noted.

She said the individual then asked her, “Wah really going on? I hear y’all done calling dead on me and seh I dead.”

Mary said she immediately asked when he would return home and the called ended. “I tell him, ‘Must come home. Mommy want see you.’ And the phone cut off and that was it,” she said.

The National Toshaos Council (NTC) last Friday called on the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate the killing of the indigenous youth.

“…We call on the Government, through the offices of the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Social Protection, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to conduct a thorough investigation into this brutal act,” the council said in a statement.

It added that while the video claimed that it was featuring a thief who had been caught by farmers, it was reliably informed that the young man was employed by his murderers and never paid. “When he asked for his payment, his employers took to this process to address and deter others from seeking fair compensation for their work,” it said.

The NTC further called on the authorities to take the necessary steps to protect its citizens from exploitation and murder and to enhance security at the borders in order to better protect the vulnerable indigenous peoples in border and mining communities.

It also said that the difficulties in neighbouring Venezuela should not be taken lightly nor taken advantage of. “While we continue to ask that our Leaders provide as much humanitarian support to those Venezuelan in need, we also ask that our hospitality is not taken advantage of nor taken for granted,” it added.

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